Keep your sides light
There are a lot of common sides that you always see at BBQs: the baked beans, collard greens. I love that stuff, but I like to keep the sides lighter and fresher. If you’re going to serve this big pile of meat, have some really healthy vegetable proteins that aren’t usually at a BBQ like quinoa and kale. For grilled veggies, I suggest corn on the cob, Mexican-style, and zucchini cut lengthwise into long strips. I also like do a grilled watermelon, which has been really cool—it goes over really well with the health-conscious folks.
Pick a choice cut
If you’re looking for a good cut of meat, that’s a bit more special and expensive, I love the dry-aged meat. It won’t require much seasoning or sauce, just straight salt and pepper. You want to taste the meat, you know what I mean? If you’re looking for a cut of steak that’s more budget-friendly, go with the flank or skirt steak. Flank steak, which is pretty thin, grills quick. Season it Mexican-style, with a lot of paprika and a lot of cumin seeds.
Pour some out for the grill
Whenever I’m grilling and the flame gets too high, I just pour a little bit of beer on it. That will drop the flame—and, besides, everything on the grill tastes better with beer there.
Don’t be afraid to wing it, literally
At BBQs, everybody always thinks of fried chicken wings, but I like grilling chicken wings because they’re low maintenance. They basically hang out on the perimeter of the grill, where the flames are lower, while the steaks are grilling in the middle.
Grilling on the go
If you’re grilling in a small space or at the beach, Hibachi grills are definitely the way to go. They’re easy to carry, not a big mess, and there’s not a lot to clean up, but you still get that charcoal smoke flavor. I’ve actually worked at restaurants where we had a big gas grill, but for some menu items we used a little hibachi on top of it, right under the hood vent.
Let people help themselves
At a cookout, part of the whole fun is doing it yourself. Don’t worry too much about serving guests, just set your grill and fix-ins station up and let people hook themselves up.
Grilled Watermelon with Mint Pesto Recipe
1 ripe watermelon
1. Cut watermelon into 3/4″ wedges
2. Place on hot/clean grill for 1min on 1 side only (just long enough to get nice grill marks and flavor)
3. Remove and refridgerate until cold
-1 bunch picked fresh mint leaves
-1.5 tbsp local raw honey
- A Brooklyn pinch of sea salt (generous)
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Add all ingredients into blender.
2. Pulse just until mint is blended.
3. Keep cold until served.
Note: Over blending or not refrigerating right away will cause pesto to turn brown.
For Grilled Mojito Melon, soak watermelon in small amount of rum or saki for a couple hours before grilling (don’t use 151).